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Object Title

Sword - Writhen Hilted Sword

Sword - Writhen Hilted Sword

Date

1480

Object Number

IX.949

Provenance

From the Hearst Collection, acquired 1952. Ex Spitzer Collection, labelled as lot 230 in 1895 sale

Physical Description

The blade is straight and doubled edged, of a flattened diamond section that flattens out and tapers towards the point. There is no fuller, but a medial ridge runs down the centre of the blade.

The hilt and quillons are of gilt bronze and the grip of wood, all carved and shaped to resemble a gnarled stave of three entwined branches, which splay out at the ends.

A gilded collar with roped decoration sits just above the quillons and another around the centre of the grip

Featured in

Techniques

Gilding

Materials

Dimensions

OverallLength1099 mm
OverallWeight1250 g
BladeLength889 mm
QuillonsWidth205 mm

Inscriptions and Marks

maker's mark
a crowned orb, as of yet unidentified
on both sides of the blade, close to the hilt
stamp

Bibliographic References

A.R.Dufty and A.N. Kennard, 'Arms and Armour from the Hearst Collection acquired for the Tower of London Armouries I' Connoisseur, 1953, pp. 23-30 fig XVIII.

C. Blair, European and American Arms, London 1962, fig. 49.

R.E.Oakeshott, The Sword in the Age of Chivalry, revised edn, London, 1981, pl. 46c (illus. - det. of hilt) (Type XVIIIa; pommel ype ?V; cross type ?2) - 'mid-15th century'.

A.R. Dufty and A. Borg,European Swords and Daggers in the Tower of London, London, 1974, p.15, pl. 5c.

A.V.B.Norman, The Rapier and Small Sword 1460-1820, London, 1980, p. 368.

of type 2) - 'c.1470-75'.

German, about 1480'.

C. Paggiarino, The Royal Armouries, masterpieces of medieval and renaissance arms and armour, Milan, 2011, volume 1

Notes

A sword with similarly decorated quillons is held by St Michael on the mid-fifteenth century painted choir screen in Ranworth Parish Church, Norfolk (post card on inv. file).

A sword with a very similar hilt and with the same mark on the blade is in the Museo Militar, Lisbon, Portugal (inv. no. 18/90), publ. and ill. in 'La paz y la guerra en la época del Tratado de Tordesillas', Electa, PLACE?, DATE?, p. 303 (p-copy on inv. file). According to a note in the inv. file, the Lisbon sword was also noted by A.N. Kennard (in 1964) who considered it to be of better quality than the R.A. sword.

Oakeshott 1991, p. 101, no. XIIIa 6, illustrates a sword in a private collection with a pommel similar to that of IX.949 but composed of more (5?) rods. The quillons also have writhen decoration and are straight ended. The material is not stated, so the implication is that it is of iron. Oakeshott dates the sword to c.1480-1510.

"Oakeshott Ewart - Records of the Medieval Sword" Pg 180, states that the blade is 76.2cm blade / 30". This is incorrect - refer back to physical description (SH 27/03/2018)

A sword in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (object number: NG-141) is somewhat reminscent of IX.949, with the pommel and quillon terminals being twisted and splayed in a similar fashion. However, the grip is not of 'writhen' form and the quillons are more appropriately described as 'roped'.
There is also a pommel within the Royal Armouries collection of a similar form: IX.750 (SH 03/06/2021)

Thumbnail image of Oakeshott Sword
Thumbnail image of Oakeshott Sword
Thumbnail image of Sword - Writhen Hilted Sword Sword of Oakeshott type XVIIIa (1981); type XVIII or XVIIIa (1991)
Thumbnail image of Sword, Oakeshott type XVIIIa (1981), type XVIII or XVIIIa (1991). German, about 1480 (IX.949)
Thumbnail image of Sword, Oakeshott type XVIIIa (1981), type XVIII or XVIIIa (1991). German, about 1480 (IX.949)
Thumbnail image of Top: Sword, Oakeshott type XVIIIa (1981), type XVIII or XVIIIa (1991). German, about 1480 (IX.949)
Bottom: Durza's (Robert Carlyle) hero sword from film Eragon (2006). English, 2006 (IX.5643)
Thumbnail image of Sword - Writhen Hilted Sword Sword of Oakeshott type XVIIIa (1981); type XVIII or XVIIIa (1991)
Thumbnail image of Sword - Writhen Hilted Sword Sword of Oakeshott type XVIIIa (1981); type XVIII or XVIIIa (1991)
Thumbnail image of Sword - Writhen Hilted Sword Sword of Oakeshott type XVIIIa (1981); type XVIII or XVIIIa (1991)
Thumbnail image of Sword - Writhen Hilted Sword Sword of Oakeshott type XVIIIa (1981); type XVIII or XVIIIa (1991)
Thumbnail image of Sword - Writhen Hilted Sword Sword of Oakeshott type XVIIIa (1981); type XVIII or XVIIIa (1991)
Thumbnail image of Sword - Writhen Hilted Sword Sword of Oakeshott type XVIIIa (1981); type XVIII or XVIIIa (1991)